When asked to name the biggest twist of 2020, Lukas didn’t cite COVID-19 or the recession. She called out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—and more specifically, what the FDA hasn’t done. “We’re almost two years past the Farm Bill and still nothing,” she says of the lack of any kind of clarity on when, how or even if the agency will regulate ingestible CBD products.

The agency has taken some action on CBD this year, releasing two Congressionally mandated reports, issuing several warning letters to CBD manufacturers making illegal health claims, and even submitting a draft guidance to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). None of which amounts to the regulatory clarity many retailers need to feel confident carrying anything but topical CBD products.

“Topicals will ultimately make up only 20% of the sales, so there’s an 80% piece that’s out there,” says Blake Patterson, founder and CEO of Denver-based hemp product distributor MarketHub, pointing to several major grocery and big-box retailers that only offer topicals.

While accepting that the regulatory process is a long one, the industry believes a little clarity would go a long way. For example, the agency so far has only gone after manufacturers for making blatant health claims, not for selling ingestibles. That could become an official policy if the FDA issued an enforcement discretion.

“If FDA could just provide an ounce of clarity, big retailers could feel secure in moving forward with reputable companies,” says Jason Mitchell, CEO and co-founder of Hemp Fusion, Denver.